Crash Story File: Eddie Apodaca, the Real Policeman Who Cracked The Trinity UFO Crash Case

Crash Story File:                         Eddie Apodaca, the Real Policeman Who Cracked The Trinity UFO Crash Case
New Mexico State Police Officer Eddie C. Apodaca (1923-2008). This portrait was taken at about the time of his graduation from the New Mexico State Police Recruit School on August 1, 1951. Decades later, Officer Apodaca was the victim of what might be called "identity theft" at the hands of Reme Baca and Jose Padilla, the original "eyewitnesses" in the "Trinity" UFO-crash story.

By Douglas Dean Johnson

@ddeanjohnson on Twitter

Original publication: May 1, 2023. Latest update: December 21, 2023 (refer to the log of substantive updates that appears at the end of the article).

You are in the Crash Story Files, a series of investigative reports examining claims that a UFO crashed and was recovered near San Antonio, New Mexico, in August 1945. To go back to the Crash Story hub and index, click here.

Jose [Padilla] has an eidetic [“photographic”] memory. I mean, he can reconstruct dates in an amazing way. So, I trust his memory.” – Jacques Vallee, The Paracast, September 5, 2021
I know how research is done. You go to the first hand source.” -- Paola Leopizzi Harris, MUFON UFO Symposium, Las Vegas, November 2013

What I found when I delved into the matter of New Mexico State Police officer Eddie C. Apodaca may tell you all that you really need to know about the credibility of Remigio (Reme) Baca and Jose Padilla, who beginning in 2003 claimed that they had witnessed a UFO crash and distressed aliens near San Antonio, New Mexico, in August of 1945.

In all versions of the Baca-Padilla tale, the character of Eddie Apodaca plays an important role. Note that Apodaca never is presented as merely a random state policeman who had been dispatched in response to a call to the agency, but rather as someone whom Jose Padilla’s dad Faustino already knew—as “a friend of the family.” This special, pre-existing relationship is mentioned in many recitations of the story, e.g., Apodaca was “a friend of ours who was a highway patrolman,” Padilla told radio interviewer Richard Syrett in December 2010.

As the story goes, after the boys witnessed the crashed craft and distressed creatures, they returned home and told Jose’s father, Faustino Padilla. Faustino did not initially seem too concerned. But on the second day following, Baca told Harris, “Jose came over to my house, and I went with him to his house, where we met Eddie Apodaca who was a State Policeman, and a friend of the family. Faustino had asked him to go with us to the crash site. They rode in the State Police car, and we rode in the pickup truck.” (Trinity, page 25.)

[It should be noted that Jacques Vallee and others sometimes misspell the name as "Eddy." However, Reme Baca himself, in his 2011 book Born on the Edge of Ground Zero, wrote, "Later in that same week, State Policeman Eddie Apodaca, a family friend who had been summons [sic] by Faustino arrived at the Padilla home." (p. 42) Vallee and co-author Paola Harris wrote in Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret that Baca's book was "the primary reference to the events described here." (Second Edition, p. 337)]

[UPDATE (July 10, 2023): On his April, 1951 application to join the New Mexico State Police, Apodaca explained that his christened name was "Edwardo," but "I've been using Eddie instead of Edwardo ever since I started school. All my Army records and business transactions have my name as Eddie C. Apodaca."]

On December 10, 2010, when Jose Padilla alone was interviewed by Mel Febregas on Veritas Radio, in what I have elsewhere dubbed Padilla's Bungled Interview (PBI), Padilla insisted that the crash had occurred on Wednesday, August 15, and that Faustino Padilla, Eddie Apodaca, and the two boys had not returned until three days after the crash, on Saturday, August 18.

MEL FABREGAS: Why three days? Why did you wait so long to go back?

PADILLA: On account of that my dad had to contact that highway patrol[man] and told him about it. And that Highway Patrol, that friend of ours, told us that he has seen things before, you know, because he used to patrol out at night. So he kind of believed us.

In the current Vallee-Harris version of events, however, the crash occurred on August 16, and the return visit of the boys with the two adults occurred two days later, on August 18, 1945.

Anyway, at the crash site, as the story goes, there was nobody around– no Lt. Col. William J. Brophy or any other military personnel, no aliens dead or alive.

The two adults went inside the craft. (“While Apodaca and Faustino were in the object, they were always visible to us,” said Baca in his book Born on the Edge of Ground Zero, 2011.) After a time the two adults emerged “with a complete change in attitude.” Faustino and Apodaca admonished the boys never to speak of what they’d seen.

Officer Apodaca gave advice: “I believe Apodaca, you know, the state police, told him [Faustino Padilla] and us [the boys] not to say anything about it,” said Jose Padilla on the Jeff Rense Program (November 18, 2003, hour 3, at 21 minutes).

“The State Policeman says to Faustino, ‘I would think that the military will want this thing back, however, it seems to me they need to proceed very carefully and quietly.’” (Baca, Born on the Edge of Ground Zero, page 44.)

"The state policeman chipped in. 'I'm here to help Faustino work out the recovery with the government. They'll want this thing back.'" (Reme Baca, paper created March, 2005, and provided to Ryan S. Wood in advance of a November, 2005 "UFO crash retrieval" conference.)

In one video interview – undated, but presented by Paola Harris during a lecture titled "The New Extraterrestrial Paradigm" on August 16, 2016– Reme Baca recalled that Eddie Apodaca did more than just give advice – he even offered to fly cover for the witnesses and their families.

BACA: Eddie [Apodaca] told us, 'If anybody asks you about this, you send them to see me. I'll be there, and I'll talk to them about it.' And so, anybody who would ask us, we'd just tell them, 'Go see Eddie.'"

Remigio (Reme) Baca recalled a helpful offer from Officer Eddie Apodaca, following Apodaca's purported entry into the crashed alien craft in August, 1945.

(The reader should note that Paola Harris, with her oft-observed inattention to detail, in various interviews and lectures has often referred to Apodaca as “the sheriff,” betraying a confusion between a law enforcement officer commissioned by a statewide agency, such as Apodaca, and the elected chief law enforcement officer of a county. Baca and Padilla never claimed that the Socorro County sheriff had been involved in the UFO crash aftermath.)


Shown above: The entire New Mexico State Police force in one photo, in the Winter of 1944. The agency started 1945 with only 32 commissioned officers on duty statewide. Photo courtesy of Ronald Taylor, author, New Mexico State Police (2013).

In 1945, the population of New Mexico was estimated to be 537,000, and as discussed further below, the New Mexico State Police was a new force, created only in 1933. It was also a very small force, starting the year 1945 with only 32 commissioned officers on duty statewide. I decided that it should not be too difficult to document whether there really existed in 1945 a New Mexico State Police officer named Eddie Apodaca, and if so, whether Eddie Apodaca could have been in Socorro County on or about August 16, 1945.

Once I explained the topic of my inquiry to officials of the New Mexico Highway Patrol, they were eager to help me. They put me in touch with Ronald Taylor, author of a published history titled New Mexico State Police (2013), part of the popular Images of America series of regional history books. Taylor retired as a patrol sergeant after over 40 years of service. Besides the book, Taylor has written sections about the department’s history that have appeared in four official yearbooks published by the New Mexico State Police. Taylor is also a past president of the New Mexico State Police Association, which represents active-duty officers. I could not have hoped for a more knowledgeable and helpful expert to assist me in learning the truth about Eddie Apodaca.

With the assistance of Ron Taylor and his contacts inside and outside of the agency, we soon established important facts beyond reasonable doubt.

Eddie C. Apodaca (1923-2008) was a real person, and he did indeed serve as an officer in the New Mexico State Police.

“We quickly found official records proving that Eddie C. Apodaca graduated from the New Mexico State Police recruit school in August, 1951,” Taylor told me.

That’s right – Eddie Apodaca first became a New Mexico State police officer six years after the purported UFO crash. He was then 27 years old.

Further confirmation was provided by reports published in multiple New Mexico newspapers (two of which I reproduce here) on August 1, 1951, listing “Eddie C. Apodaca” as among 22 recruits who had successfully completed the State Police Recruit School course.

“He was initially stationed at Socorro,” Taylor told me. Socorro, the county seat of Socorro County, is only about 11 miles north of San Antonio, the area where Baca and Padilla lived.

So, then: Eddie Apodaca became a New Mexico State Police presence in Socorro County in September, 1951 – six years after the purported UFO crash.

At least as late as 1953, Apodaca was still in Socorro County. An Associated Press report that appeared in multiple newspapers, including the Roswell Daily Record of April 7, 1953, with the dateline Socorro, reported that Apodaca set up a roadblock and then apprehended, at gunpoint, a knife-wielding former inmate who had been terrorizing 25 passengers on a bus.

New Mexico State Police officer Eddie Apodaca achieved local fame in April, 1953, with an exploit reported throughout the state of New Mexico. Jose Padilla and Reme Baca were, respectively, ages 16 and 14.
Map courtesy of Nations Online Project.


An NMSP internal memo (reproduced below) recorded that Apodaca completed the required two-year probationary period as of August 10, 1953, again documenting that he first became a New Mexico State Police officer in August 1951.

Taylor provided me with other documents as well, including a roster showing the name of every police officer on the NMSP force as of December 31, 1944. Eddie Apodaca is not found on that December 1944 list. In a state with a population of more than one-half million, there were only 34 NMSP officers as of December 31, 1944. “By the end of 1944, twelve state policemen [one-fourth of the force] were on leave of absence, having enlisted or been drafted to serve in the military,” Taylor explained in his book New Mexico State Police (p. 41).

Since Officer Eddie Apodaca was assigned to thinly populated Socorro County at least from 1951 into 1953, when Jose and Reme were in their early-to-mid-teens, it is plausible that one or both of the boys might have met Apodaca. It is even possible that Apodaca might have become acquainted or friendly with Faustino Padilla. Even if neither of those things really occurred, it is certainly plausible that Reme and Jose remembered Eddie Apodaca’s name from their teen years, since state policemen were few and far between, and the nearby apprehension of the knife-wielding man who held a busload of passengers in terror was page one news across the state on April 7, 1953. Apodaca may well have been the only New Mexico State Police officer that Baca and Padilla ever heard anything about during their teen years—and so, when Baca and Padilla made up their UFO hoax story, they adopted Eddie Apodaca as a character in their tale.


I still wanted to know where Eddie Apodaca had actually been on August 18, 1945—the date or approximate date that Baca and Padilla claimed they saw the state police officer, the "friend of the family," enter a crashed alien craft. As it turns out, on that date in the real world, Apodaca was actually a lot closer to Jacques Vallee than to Baca or Padilla.

Apodaca enlisted in the Army on July 1, 1942, when he was age 18. (His draft registration card appears at the bottom of this post, but he was not drafted – he enlisted.) Apodaca became a radio operator with the 370th Fighter Squadron, which was part of the 359th Fighter Group. He was shipped to Europe in October 1943. The planes of the 370th Fighter Squadron, based in southern England, saw very extensive action against the forces of Nazi Germany, including participation in the Battle of the Bulge.

Personnel of the 370th Fighter Squadron, in England. Eddie Apodaca is seated on the wing, closest to the fuselage of the P-51 Mustang. Apodaca arrived back in the United States on November 9, 1945, and was discharged in Texas on November 15, 1945. Photo archived by 359th Fighter Group Association.

Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945 (although it is May 8 that was officially designated as "Victory in Europe" day ("VE Day"). In August, 1945– when the mythical UFO event occurred near San Antonio, New Mexico– Apodaca remained stationed in England, about 235 miles north of the residence of Jacques Vallee, age 5, in Pontoise, France (near Paris), but about 4,935 miles from San Antonio, New Mexico. [Vallee was born in Pontoise Sept. 24, 1939, and saw a UFO there in the spring of 1955.][See end note no. 2 for an explanation of why this article, when originally published, placed Apodaca a bit further away from both San Antonio and Vallee.]

Location of Eddie Apodaca relative to San Antonio, New Mexico, and to Jacques Vallee, in August, 1945, the month of the mythical UFO crash.

Apodaca was shipped home on the Queen Mary, which departed from England on November 4, 1945, and arrived in New York on November 9, 1945. (See the image below from the ship’s passenger list.) Apodaca's arrival date in the United States is confirmed by his military discharge document, reproduced below (see box 36, "Service Outside Continental U.S. and Return").

Apodaca was honorably discharged as a corporal, in Texas, on November 15, 1945. This is confirmed by Apodaca's "Military Record and Statement of Discharge," and also by his April 10, 1951 application to the New Mexico State Police, on which he wrote, "I was in the ETO [European Theatre of Operations] from Oct 8, 1943 till Nov 4, 1945."

It appears, then, that the earliest date that Apodaca could possibly have been back in New Mexico was more than three months after the date of the fictional UFO crash.

In summary: When Baca and Padilla cooked up their UFO-crash tale in 2002 or 2003, they inserted into their story a real police officer they knew about from their teen years—to my mind, a kind of identity theft. Although I have written much more about some of the hoaxers' other deceptions, this single discovery suffices to dissolve any credibility previously imputed to any part of the tales of Baca and Padilla about the purported events of 1945.

That such a brazen, sloppy misappropriation of Officer Apodaca was not detected by Paola Harris in 20 years of "investigation," or by Jacques Vallee in six years of "investigation," is also sufficient, in my view, to establish that they neither conducted nor commissioned anything that could properly be termed an investigation of their witnesses’ credibility. They skipped that tedious, hard-nosed part, and went with their gut feelings – their utter confidence that they know sincerity and heartfelt emotion when they see it.

As a result, they have spent years engaged not in investigation, but unconsciously, in collaborative elaboration and enhancement of the hoaxers' tales, and in entangling many others in a web of fiction.

[UPDATE:  I spoke to Jose Padilla by phone for seven minutes on May 9, 2023; it was our first conversation. I explained that Eddie Apodaca had been in Europe in August, 1945. Padilla insisted that Eddie Apodaca had been a friend of Jose's father, and that Eddie Apodaca ("He was State Police!") had even trained Jose for his first driver’s license—a license that Padilla had obtained, he insisted to me, at age “eight and one-half!” Padilla was age 8-1/2 in May, 1945, when Apodaca’s Army Air Corps unit, the 370th Fighter Squadron, was in Europe.]


After his discharge from the Army in November 1945, Eddie Apodaca went to college for one semester, then held a number of jobs before being hired as a local police officer in Truth or Consequences (formerly Hot Springs), New Mexico, in April 1948, a position he held until being accepted into the New Mexico State Police in 1951. He served with the New Mexico State Police for eight years, during which he was promoted to Senior Patrolman. He resigned as an officer in good standing on May 31, 1959. He died in on November 10, 2008.

Eddie C. Apodaca had a draft registration card, shown here, but (as noted by a handwritten entry) he voluntarily enlisted in the Army. Another handwritten entry notes that Apodaca was discharged on November 15, 1945, as confirmed by Apodaca's discharge document, shown above.
Clockwise from 1 o'clock: Remigio (Reme) Baca, Paola Harris, William P. "Billy" Brophy, Jacques Vallee, Joseph Lopez (Jose) Padilla. To return to the Crash Story hub story, click here.

(1) May 30, 2023: Added photo showing the entire New Mexico State Police force as of winter, 1944.

(2) May 31, 2023: In my original article, I placed Eddie Apodaca in Fritzlar, Germany, in August 1945. That was an error, although not an error that makes any difference in the analysis. Apodaca was a radio operator with the 370th Fighter Squadron, which was part of the 359th Fighter Group. The unit's fighter planes were engaged in combat over Europe until Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945; however, the unit's base remained in southern England, and that is where Apodaca was stationed until his unit was shipped home on the Queen Mary, which departed England on November 4, 1945. (It was the 370th Fighter Group that ended up in Fritzlar, Germany, not the 370th Fighter Squadron; I confused the two units while preparing the original map.) Apodaca's presence on the Queen Mary is confirmed by the ship's passenger manifest. He arrived back in the U.S. on November 9, 1945, as confirmed by Apodaca's military discharge record, reproduced in the original article. I regret the error as to Apodaca's exact location in August 1945, but the correction is of absolutely no significance to any of the conclusions reached in the article. I have revised the map to show that Apodaca was about 4,935 miles from San Antonio, New Mexico, on the day of the mythical UFO crash (rather than 5,397 miles), and that he was about 235 miles away from Jacques Vallee (rather than 349 miles).

(3) June 2, 2023: The original article observed that some people misspell the name as "Eddy." I added an observation that Reme Baca wrote "Eddie Apodaca" in his 2011 book.

(4) July 10, 2023: On this date I received Eddie Apodaca's complete New Mexico State Police personnel file through an Inspection of Public Records Act request. This file contained information that allowed me to add a few details to Apodaca's history after his discharge from the Army, including his hiring as a local police officer by the city of Truth or Consequences (formerly Hot Springs), New Mexico, in April 1948. The application also contained Apodaca's explanation, inserted above, that he began using "Eddie" as his legal name at an early age.

(5) December 21, 2023: I added a paragraph about my telephone conversation with Jose Padilla on May 9, 2023, during which he insisted that Eddie Apodaca ("He was State Police!") had trained Jose for his first driver's license when Jose was "eight and one-half" years old – that is, in mid-1945 (when Apodaca was actually in Europe).